The Obama administration's gun-control positions have been the driving force behind the nation's ammunition shortages and the primary reason why the .22-caliber bullet is still a scarcity, critics charge.
"There is no doubt that the president's anti-gun agenda has driven the sale of guns and ammunition through the roof," Erich Pratt, spokesman for Gun Owners of America, told Newsmax. "President Barack Obama can truly be known as the gun salesman of the decade."
For months, gun owners have faced difficulties purchasing certain-caliber ammunition. And while some calibers have started to return to store shelves in full force, others are still hard to find.
"For the most part, there isn't a scarcity of ammo on store shelves any longer. Common calibers like 9 mm, .40-caliber, .45-caliber, and .223-[caliber] rifle ammunition are easily found," said Andrew Rothman, president of the Minnesota-based Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance.
"One exception is .22-caliber ammunition. While .22 ammo is being produced at record levels — manufacturers tell me that they are running at 100 percent capacity, and adding even more — the .22 is snapped up as soon as it appears," Rothman told Newsmax.
Part of the reason for the overall ammo shortage is that the federal government has been purchasing bulk amounts of particular types of ammunition for the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, as well as ammo for agencies including the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Postal Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Gun owners watch these buys while listening to the Obama administration's anti-gun rhetoric, and a cycle begins: The more the government buys up ammo — and the more the Obama administration talks about the need to scale back Second Amendment freedoms — the more gun owners try to stock up on ammunition, and ammo that used to be freely available suddenly becomes in short supply.
Those empty store shelves further feed the fears of gun owners that Obama can't get Congress to approve new gun-control laws so he's pushing his agenda through the back door.
"Mostly, [the White House is] just talk," Rothman said. "There have been no executive actions that directly affect ammunition availability, but every anti-gun rights statement by the Obama administration triggers a new round of buying more guns and ammunition."
Meanwhile, ammunition prices have in many cases soared because of political and cultural shifts that have led to new market pressures.
For example, more women have jumped on the gun-buy bandwagon and more new gun owners are taking lessons and hitting the shooting ranges — and that means the .22-caliber, in particular, has seen a major price hike and supply problem.
"The renewed push for gun control since the Sandy Hook murders [in December 2012] has raised the profile of guns and shooting in American culture," Rothman said. "Nothing gets people to start exercising a right like the threat of losing it.
"In addition, and despite the best efforts of the gun-banners, the shooting sports are more and more becoming a mainstream activity. In Minnesota, trap shooting is now the fastest-growing high-school sport. Also, record numbers of women are getting into shooting for the first time. All of these new shooters are buying new guns, and need ammunition to feed them."
The most common type of sports ammo is the .22-caliber, according to Rothman.
"It's inexpensive, has almost no recoil, and isn't nearly as loud as larger calibers," he said.
"Experienced shooters also enjoy its low cost, which lets them practice their shooting skills without breaking the bank."
But that was the situation pre-Obama. Now, against the backdrop of the White House's push for more gun control, shooters are shedding their carefree days and adopting a more strategic approach when they go to fire.
"In the past," Rothman said, "people would go to the store and buy ammunition on the way to the range. Now, people concerned with short supplies will buy ammunition — especially .22 — whenever they see it on the shelf, and as much as they are allowed to buy. This leads to shortages, which increases that concern, which triggers more buying — which triggers more shortages. It's a self-perpetuating cycle."
In addition to Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other administration officials promising that gun control will be enacted nationwide, the Environmental Protection Agency has enacted regulatory burdens that have an impact on the ammo supply, driving the last lead smelter plant in the United States out of existence.
And the White House signed on to a U.N.-backed gun treaty that, if ratified in the Senate, would force gun owners to register their weapons.
"Not only that, [Obama's] administration has blocked the importation of hundreds of thousands of [M1 carbines]," said Pratt, of Gun Owners of America. "Obama has tried to ban the importation of certain shotguns; he's encouraged Congress to ban various semi-automatic firearms and magazines; and he's taken executive actions that could disarm thousands of police and firemen who suffer from work-related [post-traumatic stress disorders].
"Clearly, much of the spike in purchasing ammo stems from the fear that it could become unavailable in the future," Pratt said.
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